In wake of fentanyl deaths, let’s start a conversation

An informed public can start conversations with their children, co-workers and friends

To the editor;

In this age of information and electronic communication, it is usually fairly easy to stay current with anything happening in the community.

If someone steals a bike-repair station, we see it in the press and probably read about it on Facebook in a timely fashion. More seriously, if there is a cougar prowling around a neighborhood or a series of sexual or physical assaults, we all find out quickly through various means and do what we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

I am grateful for mainstream and social media when such warnings need to be circulated.

In my professional life, involved in the provision of substance-use treatment, I (and many others) see trends in our community and do what we can to help those who need appropriate counselling and related services. We also do our part to inform and provide the prevention component of the substance-use service continuum.

From time to time, there is a dangerous wave related to a particular substance. As a society, we have experienced preoccupation with stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens as our human need to medicate and, in many cases, ease related pain continues.

Many people are familiar with the substance fentanyl, which, depending on the information source, has been described as up to 20 times as powerful as heroin and up to 100 times as strong as morphine.

It is a painkiller that is not new to pharmacology and has always been used very carefully in medicine.

Unfortunately, this substance is finding its way into other substances and is also being marketed as less powerful painkilling/opiate medications in non-medical settings.

Although I work in this field, I am not completely sure of the number of deaths recently in our community, but I have heard from reliable sources very much connected to what is happening on the street that we may have sadly lost as many as four individuals due to their use of fentanyl in Kamloops.

I can also not speak to whether all of these individuals were fully aware of what was contained in the substance they used.

I would like to think our society is starting to have more open dialogue pertaining to mental-health and addiction issues, but many times the shame and blame around this topic disables the communication lines and we do not hear what we need to hear about substance-related deaths in the way my previous examples are dealt with.

It is not easy for anyone who has lost a loved one to such a situation — and even harder for them to speak out openly about what may have happened.

Please be aware of what is happening in Kamloops and many other communities.

We have sounded the alarm regarding crystal meth, GHB and other substances that have had major adverse effects on so many of our friends and loved ones.

An informed public can start conversations with their children, co-workers and friends. If just one person hesitates before using an unconfirmed substance, it is worth the awkwardness of the topic. Please get the word out.

There are valuable counselling programs and professionals, as well as tremendous 12-step groups ( AA and NA) available in Kamloops.

If you have a question or need some help, please access them.

Patrick C. McDonald

Kamloops, B.C.

*Editor’s note: Counselling programs in Barriere and Clearwater can be accessed through Yellowhead Community Services; Barriere 250-672-9773, Clearwater 250-674-2600. Barriere A-A 250-672-9643 or 250-672-9934.